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St. Vincent de Paul Church from “The Closer”

Aug 24th, 2012 | By | Category: TV Locations

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A couple of weeks ago, while watching the Season 7 episode of The Closer titled “Last Rites”, I received a text from my mom, who was also watching the show at the time.  She was curious to know if I was aware of what church the episode had been filmed at.  And, as fate would have it, I did!  The “Last Rites” church was none other than St. Vincent de Paul Church in the West Adams District of Los Angeles.  And while the locale has appeared in countless productions over the years, for whatever reason, I had yet to blog about it, or even stalk it for that matter.  So I dragged the Grim Cheaper right on over there to finally do just that this past weekend.

St. Vincent de Paul Church first came to be thanks to a 1922 donation to the Catholic Church from oil tycoon Edward Doheny, who, at the time, lived directly behind where St. Vincent now stands.  The structure, which seats 1,200, was designed by Albert C. Martin, the very same architect who also gave us the Million Dollar Theatre and Los Angeles City Hall, both in Downtown Los Angeles, and St. Monica’s Catholic Church in Santa Monica (which I blogged about here).  St. Vincent’s elaborate Churrigueresque-style exterior was inspired by the California Building from the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and Santa Prisca Temple in Mexico.

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Construction on the massive structure began in 1923, was completed in 1925, and St. Vincent de Paul Church was officially dedicated on Easter Sunday, April 12th, of that same year.

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As you can see, the church is absolutely stunning and its detailing is nothing short of awe-inspiring!

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The property’s 44-foot tall concrete dome is a site to see, in and of itself.

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If you thought the exterior of St. Vincent de Paul was special, though, the interior will absolutely knock your socks off!  It literally almost took my breath away!  The inside of the church was designed by architect Ralph Adams Cram and the ceiling decoration was by artist John B. Smeraldi, who also created the ceilings of the Biltmore Hotel (hence the name of the hotel’s main restaurant, Smeraldi’s).

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The main church lights were off when we showed up to stalk the place, so it was extremely hard to take decent photographs, but, as you can see, it is pretty darn spectacular.

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The detailing of St. Vincent’s interior is just as impressive as the exterior.  I honestly cannot recommend stalking the church, which was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1971, enough!

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In the “Last Rites” episode of The Closer, Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) and her Major Crimes team investigate the murder of a priest who was found dead outside of St. Vincent de Paul.  Both the exterior . . .

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. . . and the interior of the church were featured in the episode.

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The Closer is hardly the first production to film on the premises, though.  In 1992, St. Vincent de Paul Church appeared in both of the videos for the Warrant song “The Bitter Pill” – the acoustic version featuring Jani Lane;

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which you can watch by clicking below;

Warrant–The Bitter Pill video–filmed at St. Vincent de Paul Church

and the album version featuring the entire band (I apologize for the craptastic screen captures, which I got off of YouTube);

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which you can also watch by clicking below.

Warrant–The Bitter Pill video–filmed at St. Vincent de Paul Church

In the Season 5 episode of the original Melrose Place titled  “Great Sexpectations”, which aired in 1997, St. Vincent de Paul Church was where Dr. Michael Mancini (Thomas Calabro) took Dr. Kimberly Shaw (Marcia Cross) to pray about her illness, but the two end up accidentally walking into the tail end of a funeral.

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In the Season 1 episode of Charmed titled “When Bad Warlocks Turn Good”, which aired in 1999, St. Vincent de Paul was the church where Brendan Rowe (NCIS’ resident cutie, Michael Weatherly) was attacked by a warlock.

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St. Vincent’s most well-known onscreen appearance was at the very end of the 1999 thriller End of Days, as the spot where Jericho Cane (Arnold Schwarzenegger) took on Satan (Gabriel Byrne).  According to the Seeing Stars website, while some actual filming did take place on the premises, the destruction scenes were all shot on a large-scale miniature of the interior that was created especially for the movie.

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As you can see below, a different church was used for the exterior, though.

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In 2000’s Bedazzled, the church was where Elliot Richards (Brendan Fraser), in a very funny scene, complained to a priest (played by Brian Doyle-Murray) that he had sold his soul to The Devil (Elizabeth Hurley) for seven wishes, but that she was trying to trick him out of one of them.

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The Charmed crew returned to St. Vincent in 2001 to shoot the Season 4 episode titled “Charmed Again” for the scene in which Paige Matthews (Rose McGowan) discovers she is able to move objects with the swipe of a hand.

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In 2002’s The Salton Sea, St. Vincent was where Al Garcetti (Anthony LaPaglia) and Gus Morgan (Doug Hutchison) told Danny Parker (Val Kilmer) that he had to leave town and go into hiding.

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In the Season 2 episode of Alias titled “Firebomb”, which aired in 2003, St. Vincent de Paul stood in for the supposed Mexico City-area Vatican Embassy where Alia Gizabi (Lina Patel) worked and where Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) escaped a weapon that was able to make humans spontaneously combust.

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St. Vincent was used as two different locations in the 2005 movie Constantine.  The interior first popped up as the church where Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) went to confession.

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And the exterior was used as the exterior of the church where John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) talked to Gabriel (Tilda Swinton).

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Although the interior of Gabriel’s church, as you can see below, was a different location entirely.

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The Alias crew returned to St. Vincent de Paul Church in 2006 to film Nadia Santos’ (Mia Maestro) funeral in the Season 5 episode titled “I See Dead People”.

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In 2007’s This Christmas, the exterior of St. Vincent was where the Whitfield family attended Christmas mass.

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As you can see below, though, for the interior scenes, a different church was used.

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In the Season 5 episode of Entourage titled “Gotta Look Up to Get Down”, which aired in 2008, St. Vincent de Paul was where the funeral of Alan Gray (Paul Ben-Victor) was held, during which Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) was offered Alan’s studio head job.

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In the Season 1 episode of Dollhouse titled “Needs”, which aired in 2009, St. Vincent de Paul Church appeared as the site where November (Miracle Laurie) found Katie’s gravesite.

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A fake cemetery was set up on the church grounds for the filming of that episode.

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St. Vincent was also apparently used in Tom Clancy’s 1999 made-for-television movie NetForce, but I, unfortunately, could not find a copy of the flick with which to verify that information.  And while it also supposedly appeared in the 2001 made-for-TV movie James Dean, I scanned through that production yesterday and did not see the church pop up anywhere.

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You can find me on Facebook here and on Twitter at @IAMNOTASTALKER.  And be sure to check out my my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: St. Vincent de Paul Church, from the “Last Rites” episode of The Closer, is located at 621 West Adams Boulevard in the West Adams District of Los Angeles.  The Stimson House, from House II: The Second Story (which I blogged about here), is located next door at 2421 South Figueroa Street.

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6 comments

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  1. Migel Valadez says:

    “End of Days,” was filmed here too. I wonder how many oldies also filmed here? I used to go to 7 am mass while attending St. Vincent’s Grammer School back in the early 60’s. Old guy would play Bach on the organ. Made it very spiritual with only a handful of people that attended this mass. – One day was watching ‘End of Day’s’ and the ending was taking place in NY but then I immediately recognized that it was St.VdeP Church. Daja vue!

  2. Gilles from France says:

    Great post!! The interior for “This Christmas” is St John Episcopal Cathedral in L.A., another place that you shoud stalk one day! :-)

  3. Her mom says:

    Thanks for stalking, Linds. It is incredible.
    Lavonna, I miss Brenda Leigh too but I am loving Provenza on Major Crimes.

  4. lavonna says:

    I miss Brenda Leigh….


Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. […] custom-built Pierce-Arrow.  (You can see the spire of nearby St. Vincent de Paul Church, which I blogged about here, on the right-hand side of the top photo […]

  2. […] LaVies commissioned Albert Martin, the prolific architect who gave us St. Vincent de Paul Church (which I blogged about here), St. Monica Catholic Church (which I blogged about here), Los Angeles City Hall, and the Million […]

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